In response to comments made by Prime Minister Tony Blair to BBC’s - Refugee Council
February 7, 2003

In response to comments made by Prime Minister Tony Blair to BBC’s

Newsnight programme (to be broadcast this evening) Margaret Lally, acting Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“The morals and values that define a democratic society include providing asylum to those whose lives are endangered in their own country. But we are in real danger of losing that moral base because no one in Government is making the case for why we must help refugees.

“Today’s asylum seekers have fled the brutal regimes of Iraq and Zimbabwe or countries ravaged by war and terror such as Somalia and Afghanistan. No one would want to see people returned to countries to face torture or persecution. Nor would we want them to be prevented from reaching safety.

“Simply put – you cannot have targets for the number of people in need of protection. Refugees are the innocent victims of war and hatred. Our doors must be kept open for them, especially given current world instabilities.

“The only serious and durable long term solution to reducing asylum applications is to address the reasons that force people from their homes. This means tackling the oppression and brutality that causes them to flee in the first place.”

Ends

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